Bobby Joe White
BECKLEY – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that two men were indicted on March 13 by a federal grand jury sitting in Beckley in connection with illegal prescription drug distribution and firearm possession offenses.
According to a six-count indictment filed yesterday, Bobby Joe White, 66, of 1639 Gordon Road in Gordon, allegedly sold a quantity of alprazolam, also known as “Xanax,” on July 5, 2010, near Danville.
The indictment also alleges that White sold quantities of hydrocodone and oxycodone in August 2012 near Boone County.
The indictment further alleges that White possessed a .32 caliber pistol during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime on February 12, 2013.
“He was selling so many prescription narcotics from his home that his residence was nicknamed ‘The Gordon Pharmacy,’” said one law enforcement official working with the U.S. 119 Drug Task Force.
Investigators said White was selling pills at his home on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, when law enforcement officials and a S.W.A.T. team stormed the location.
“He was in the process of selling pills to an individual who was not working with law enforcement,” according to the federal criminal complaint filed in the case.
Task Force Commander and West Virginia State Police Trooper A.S. Perdue said White has been the target of undercover operations for some time now.
“We have made several controlled purchases of prescription narcotics from Mr. White,” Perdue said. “We were also made aware that he was armed and dangerous. We were able to obtain a search warrant and executed it on Feb. 12, 2013.”
When White was arrested police took a statement from the buyer of the pills.
“The buyer admitted that he had purposely travelled to Mr. White’s residence to purchase narcotics from him,” the criminal complaint stated.
Police recovered two Oxycodone pills from the buyer that he said he had just purchased from White.
Police said White was armed with a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol in a holster on his person at the time of his arrest. They also discovered a .32 caliber pistol and two rifles that were in plain view in his living room.
White was arraigned before U.S. Federal Court Judge Mary Stanley who ordered him into the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
“We had received lots of complaints in the Gordon area about illegal activities and we believe this arrest is the start of addressing those complaints,” Perdue added.
White faces up to life in prison, a $1 million fine on each drug charge and a $250,000 fine on the firearm charge if convicted.
The Boone and Logan Sheriff’s Departments, along with the West Virginia State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) assisted in the execution of the search warrant in this case.
“We are stepping up our efforts to combat the illegal drug problems in our region, so the community is going to see a lot more arrests,” Perdue said.
Anyone wanting to report suspicious or illegal activities in their community is urged to contact the West Virginia State Police at 304-752-1347. You do not have to give your name to make a report.
According to a separate two-count indictment, Jody Lowell Sowder, 36 of Scarbro, Fayette County, W.Va., allegedly distributed oxycodone on September 25, 2012 near Oak Hill, W.Va. The indictment also alleges that also on September 25, 2012, Sowder possessed a semi-automatic pistol during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Sowder faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on Count 1; and up to five years to life in prison on Count 2 if convicted.
The investigations were conducted by the Oak Hill Police Department, the U.S. 119 Drug Task Force and the West Virginia State Police. Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Hanks and Steven Loew are in charge of the prosecutions.
The matters are being brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, Goodwin explained.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking existing local programs targeting gun crime,” he said.
The matters are also being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs, according to Goodwin.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District,” Goodwin said.
(Editor’s note: The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.)